It’s time to celebrate and introduce new Mills & Boon author Hana Sheik! Hana joins us on our blog today to share her writing journey and successes. She joins the True Love series and her debut novel, Second Chance to Wear His Ring is out now!
Hana Sheik submitted her story via a Harlequin Romance blitz, where her vivid writing, exciting settings and high drama set-up captured the eye of editor Nic Caws. Congratulations Hana!
Hi Hana! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hello everyone! My name is Hana Sheik, and I’m the author of Second Chance to Wear His Ring. I’m grateful to be able to write full-time. However, I do attend college as well, and my accounting program keeps me pleasantly busy crunching numbers.
Currently I live in Ottawa, Canada, but I was born in Somalia. I moved to Canada with my family when I was young. For that reason, a lot of my stories will include Black and/or Muslim immigrant experiences, love transcending countries and different cultures, and kissing and happily-ever-afters (of course! ^_^).
Why did you want to become a romance writer?
I’ve wanted to be a romance writer for as long as I can remember.
It started with romantic fanfiction, and then I discovered the romance section of my library. Shortly after that I found my first Harlequin romance and the rest is history! Eventually I wanted to tell my own stories and built up the courage to write the characters, settings, and plots in my head. At first it was to see whether I could finish an actual book (spoiler: I can!). Now I write romance because I feel the same cozy, warm feelings that reading romance continues to give me.
And why not romance? I get to write happy-for-nows and happy-ever-afters every day!
What were the major steps in your journey to becoming a published author? Was this story the first manuscript you submitted?
Second Chance to Wear His Ring is my first full manuscript submitted to Harlequin/Mills & Boon, but I’ve submitted a few partials and first chapters over the course of four years.
While writing and revising Second Chance to Wear His Ring, I read as many Mills & Boon True Love titles as I could squeeze in, and I kept my eye out on pacing, characterization, and emotional conflict. Not surprisingly, all the pieces needed to build a good story can be found in the romances that I love to read. Reading “like a writer” is something I still do to improve my own writing craft. It’s also an exercise I highly recommend to aspiring authors.
What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
It’s a constant push-pull of questioning our skills as capable, publish-worthy writers.
Sadly, the doubt doesn’t end after getting the publishing contract of your dreams. So, harness that fear and learn to work around it—or under it, over it, alongside it—and always remember that this journey is yours. You’re writing this story for you. Every draft of your manuscript makes up all the stepping stones to your writing aspirations. Be they getting an agent, signing with a publisher, and/or getting book awards, film/TV options and selling millions of copies of your books. Believe in the power of the words you’re putting on the page. Trust in the characters who are telling you their stories. Be fearless for the sake of your dreams.
What did you do when you got the call?
I hadn’t anticipated I’d be getting “The Call”. I had believed the call with my wonderful editor was about revisions, so I was happily surprised when it wasn’t that at all! Some more details: I got the call on my older sister’s birthday, and I happened to be helping her set up a nursery, so I hurried to tell her after I got off the Zoom call and had the two-book offer. She’s one of my cheerleaders (my whole family’s supportive!). It meant the world to celebrate with her. And we did it in style, with chocolate milkshakes.
Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel Second Chance to Wear His Ring?
Set in Somaliland and Addis Ababa, Second Chance to Wear His Ring is the story of my heart.
It tells the story of Amal who suffers an accident that leaves her with amnesia, and her childhood friend/playmate Mansur “Manny” who comes home to help her piece together the memories they shared. Naturally, they have a lot of baggage they need to unpack before their HEA. Their love story is a tale of healing at its core. Healing the outside, but also the inside. It was such a joy to write, and I hope readers fall in love with Manny and Amal the way I have.
What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
That love can take place anywhere and between anyone!
Manny and Amal’s love story happens to unfold in Africa, but it could have happened any place and at any time. That’s the beauty of the romance genre—it embraces diversity and all of us readers. It’s the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. The Ben & Jerry’s of genre fiction. It’s full of hope, mistakes, forgiveness, passion, and enduring love.
Hear from Hana’s editor, Nicola Caws
Hana came to our attention via a Harlequin Romance blitz, where her first chapter immediately caught and held my interest. I loved her combination of classic romance hooks – amnesia, reunion romance, friends to lovers! – and the way she brought these to life via her empathetic protagonists. At every stage – three chapters, the full, then revisions – it’s been a pleasure to work on this book and I can’t wait for everyone to read it!
Buy Second Chance to Wear His Ring by Hana Sheik now!